Thursday, May 05, 2011

Extreme Couponing (or) How Do I Pay for the Cleaning Lady?

It's been a busy few months, my friends.

Taking on different responsibilities at work required more time at the office and added travel. I think I spent the entire month of March on the road, but it all happened so fast that I'd have to check old boarding passes to be sure.

During that time, I made a very important decision: I need a cleaning person. Someone who can dust, vacuum, and mop -- In other words, someone who can keep my place looking decent so I don't have to. I figured once a month should do the trick.

Hubby didn't agree. Especially when my first hire was for two guys to clear out the garage.

"We don't need to spend the money," he reasoned. "I was going to do it."

We all know what this means. He was going to do it only after I raised hell, waited six months, and then raised hell again. But enough, I decided, was enough. The guys did a great job, and I drove my car into the garage without sideswiping a mound of junk for the first time in five years. My marriage, I believe, is better for it.

The garage guys were a one-time charge, so how was I to justify a monthly charge for a cleaning person? The boost to my sanity should be enough, but I wanted to be sure the expense was painless.

After hearing about people getting $481 of groceries for $3.19, I decided to give couponing a try. I knew that I wouldn't be able to rack up these types of savings on the first few tries, but I had no idea how much work this involves. People spend more time couponing than they do working full-time jobs.

It's been less than a month since I made my declaration to become an extreme couponer, and here's what I've learned so far:

1. I will NEVER get $481 worth of anything for $3.19. It takes way too much time. The most I've had is $89 on a $150 bill, and that was good enough for me.

2. I should leave my daughter at home. There's nothing like a six-year-old asking for candy and what-not while you are trying to calculate coupon savings. Now I see why the people on TV usually go alone.

3. Always smile at the cashier. Check-out already sucks; it only gets worse when you have 50 coupons and a clerk who thinks you're rude.

4. I will not stockpile. It seems like a good idea, but do I really need 65 bottles of mustard? Plus, I don't have the space.

The cleaning lady comes for the first time this Monday, and my coupon savings have covered her fees for the next couple of months. So, all in all, I guess it was worth it.

Stay tuned!